Research Shows Effectiveness of Using Snyder’s Hope Theory by Parents of Children with Medical Complexities

NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 – An emerging subpopulation within pediatric chronic illness is children living with complex chronic conditions such as congenital hereditary muscular dystrophy. Managing these conditions can be emotionally taxing for parents. In a study recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, researchers investigated the efficacy of Snyder’s hope theory to help maintain and improve the child’s quality of life.

Snyder’s hope theory is named after C.R. Snyder, a psychologist who theorized that much human behavior was goal-directed and two key factors influenced the movement towards these goals: pathways thinking and agency thinking. Researchers used central concepts within the theory to guide their directed content analysis of interviews with parents about their hopeful and hopeless experiences.

“Hopeful thinking is based on prior interactions with others – both the things that others say and do, but also the things that others fail to say or do,” said lead author Katherine A. Rafferty, PhD. “Hopeful thinking occurs when others use messages that help parents identify clear goals for their child’s medical care and quality of life, identify care solutions, and offer words of affirmation and encouragement.”

The study showed that parents desire to be actively involved caregivers who manage their child’s quality of life, but that they also need messages of emotional support to feel empowered and capable in their parental role. More hopeful parents established and reinforced the goal of maximizing their child’s quality of life by generating the pathways and agency needed to sustain this goal while the lack of reliable support from others added to parent’s uncertainty and diminished their sense of agency in caring for their medically complex child and preserving their child’s quality of life.

The article also highlighted the vital role health care professionals, family and friends have in helping parents remain informed and actively involved caregivers.

The full study can be accessed on the Journal of Pediatric Health Care’s website.

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The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation’s only professional association for pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,000 healthcare practitioners with 18 special interest groups and 53 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children’s health since 1973 and was the first APRN society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses and key partners to optimize child and family health. www.NAPNAP.org

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